Sept. 15, 2003
NEW YORK CITY - The Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA) announced that it is suspending operations effective immediately. The decision was made by the league's Board of Governors at a meeting today in New York City as a result of insufficient revenue to support a fourth year of play.
"A shortfall in sponsorship revenue and insufficient revenue from other core areas of the business proved to be the hurdles which the WUSA could not overcome in time for planning the 2004 season," said John Hendricks, Chairman of the WUSA Board of Governors. "At this time, let me thank the great WUSA sponsors led by charter sponsors Hyundai and Johnson & Johnson who did step forward to enthusiastically support our league since inception."
WUSA President and CEO Lynn Morgan commented, "It's been very gratifying to watch this league elevate women's sports to a whole new level of awareness and respect. I would personally like to thank the WUSA league and team employees, the passionate WUSA fans, our investors, and the wonderful athletes who compete in this league for their commitment to soccer and women's athletics."
The WUSA's owners have invested more than $100 million to date to fund the league. The decision by the WUSA Board of Governors to suspend operations was made after reviewing revenue commitments for 2004. Of the WUSA's potential revenue sources, the breadth of corporate sponsorship has been the greatest disappointment, reaching less than half of the levels anticipated in the league's original business plan.
WUSA's current cash reserves in combination with receivables and planned investment financing are not sufficient to continue operations. The WUSA Board met and acted today in order to protect funding for the league's shutdown obligations including severance arrangements. The Board was also anxious to avoid the potential disruption caused by continued uncertainty during upcoming World Cup play. The Board was unanimous in the belief that, given the financial realities facing the league, it was in everyone's best interest to make an immediate decision and announcement.
The league was formed as a unique partnership between the owners and the players, with founding players taking an active role in league management and also an equity stake. Julie Foudy, captain of the San Diego Spirit and U.S. World Cup team and a member of the WUSA Board of Governors, commented, "We appreciate the wonderful commitment that the WUSA owners have made to the players. The impact of the WUSA on women's sports and millions of fans has been extraordinary."
"The Women's World Cup will provide a platform to generate additional interest in women's soccer that could be the catalyst to more sponsor support to revive the WUSA," Foudy continued. "The positive impact our sport has had on youth players, both boys and girls, and their perception of women and athletics, has been inspiring to experience first hand. It is empowering for kids to have role models like the players of the WUSA."
"The players remain hopeful that more sponsors will recognize the value of associating their brands and products with the wholesomeness of the WUSA," Washington Freedom forward and U.S. World Cup team member Mia Hamm said. "Major sponsors committed to bringing back world-class women's soccer could enable a successor league to launch in 2005 or perhaps even earlier."
Featuring the best women's soccer players in the world, WUSA athletes include 56 WUSA players who will compete in the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup in the United States that kicks off September 20. The eight WUSA teams are the Atlanta Beat, Boston Breakers, Carolina Courage, New York Power, Philadelphia Charge, San Diego Spirit, San Jose CyberRays and the Washington Freedom.
Santa Clara was well-represented in the league, with 19 former Broncos participating in the last three seasons, including current U.S. World Cup Team members Kylie Bivens (Atlanta Beat), Brandi Chastain (San Jose CyberRays), Danielle Slaton (Carolina Courage) and Aly Wagner (San Diego Spirit/Boston Breakers).